Special Report

Bad Movies You'll Remember If You Grew Up in the '80s

Going to the movies was a big deal in the 80s. It was the decade before the internet arrived, before even the DVD, and people didn’t have as many entertainment options as they do today. If you grew up in the 80s you’ll remember great movies like “Back to the Future,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” However, there are some movies that were so awful you’ll probably remember them too. 

Horror was a popular genre in the 80s, but some of the horror movies that came out then were frighteningly bad. Almost half the entries on our list of bad movies from the 80s are horror movies, but several of them are sequels and they often disappoint. You probably enjoyed “Halloween” and “Poltergeist,” but what about “Halloween II” and “Poltergeist III”? (For the full list see the 50 worst movie sequels ever made.)

Even great directors can make bad movies and great actors can be in them. William Friedkin directed the 70s classics “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist.” But in the 80s he gave us “Cruising.” And it even starred Al Pacino, who’s probably on a lot of best actor lists. John Milius wrote “Apocalypse Now” in the 70s, but went on to direct “Red Dawn.” And it starred some of the hottest actors of the decade, including Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. And even if you thought it was so bad you wanted to forget it, you got a reminder when it was remade in 2012. 

Click here to see bad movies you’ll remember if you grew up in the 80s.

To determine the 15 worst movies you’ll remember if you grew up in the 80s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. We created an index based on the average critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the average audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and the average user rating from IMDb (IMDb). We only considered feature films with at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews, 10 Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user reviews. All data is for the most recent period available. Data was collected February 2021.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

15. Cruising (1980)
> Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
> Director(s): William Friedkin
> Starring: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox
> Box office gross: $19.8 million

Cruising is a thriller about a cop (Al Pacino) who goes undercover to find a serial killer targeting gay men. Despite the star power, “this detective melodrama has something to offend almost everyone,” one critic wrote,

[in-text-ad]

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

14. The Funhouse (1981)
> Genre: Horror
> Director(s): Tobe Hooper
> Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin, Jack McDermott
> Box office gross: $7.9 million

Four teenagers have a night of terror stuck in a carnival funhouse after witnessing a murder. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers didn’t have much fun with “Funhouse,” describing it as “slow, obvious, and repetitive,” “lousy,” and “badly-acted, unoriginal, and dull-looking.”

Source: Courtesy of Vestron Pictures

13. Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
> Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
> Director(s): Julien Temple
> Starring: Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans
> Box office gross: $3.9 million

In this musical comedy a young California woman (Geena Davis) befriends three aliens who land in her swimming pool. Critics described the movie as “messy, silly, and not particularly bright.”

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

12. Phantasm II (1988)
> Genre: Action, Fantasy, Horror
> Director(s): Don Coscarelli
> Starring: James Le Gros, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Paula Irvine
> Box office gross: $7.3 million

After surviving his encounter with a creepy mortician in the first “Phantasm,” Mike Pearson, just released from a mental institution, sets out to track him down and stop his murderous acts. Movie critic Roger Ebert wondered who all the images of corpses, graveyards, severed skulls, and rotting flesh would appeal to and why.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Releasing

11. Teen Wolf (1985)
> Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
> Director(s): Rod Daniel
> Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine
> Box office gross: $33.1 million

Michael J. Fox starred in four movies in 1985, so it’s perhaps not surprising that they weren’t all critical successes. In this one, Fox plays an ordinary high school student who discovers he is a werewolf. One critic called it, “determinedly bland and unoriginal.”

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

10. Annie (1982)
> Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
> Director(s): John Huston
> Starring: Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking
> Box office gross: $57.1 million

Based on the hugely successful Broadway musical of the same name, the movie “Annie” is the tale of an orphan taken in by a millionaire. Despite being directed by Hollywood titan John Huston, who was nominated for ten Oscars over his career, critics described “Annie” as “a sluggish, stagebound mess of an adaptation.”

[in-text-ad]

Source: Courtesy of Embassy Pictures

9. Swamp Thing (1982)
> Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Wes Craven
> Starring: Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, David Hess
> Box office gross: $0.0 million

“Swamp Thing,” based on a DC Comic series, is the story of a scientist who wants to cross plants and animals to create a new species. Unfortunately he becomes the subject of his own experiment and turns into…yes, you guessed it, the Swamp Thing. One critic said it’s short on thrills and laughs, another said it seems like a mix of bits from “The Fly,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

8. Firestarter (1984)
> Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Mark L. Lester
> Starring: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Freddie Jones, Heather Locklear
> Box office gross: $15.1 million

Coming out a few years after “The Shining,” “Firestater” is also based on a Steven King novel.

In it a young girl (Drew Barrymore), whose parents participated in a medical experiment when they were in college, discovers she has the power to start fires by merely thinking about them.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

7. Halloween II (1981)
> Genre: Horror
> Director(s): Rick Rosenthal
> Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer
> Box office gross: $25.5 million

The second installment in the Halloween series, “Halloween II” picks up where the first one left off, with serial killer Michael Myers following Laurie Strode, who survived his first attacks, to the hospital. One critic called it, “a bad sequel to a good movie.”

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of MGM/UA Entertainment Company

6. Red Dawn (1984)
> Genre: Action, Drama
> Director(s): John Milius
> Starring: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen
> Box office gross: $38.4 million

In “Red Dawn” the United States has been invaded by the Soviet Union and a group of teenagers band together to defend their town from the invaders. One critic noted, “its sloppy execution is unlikely to win any merit badges for marksmanship.”

Source: Courtesy of International Film Marketing

5. Night of the Demons (1988)
> Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
> Director(s): Kevin Tenney
> Starring: Cathy Podewell, Alvin Alexis, Hal Havins, Allison Barron
> Box office gross: $3.1 million

A Halloween party at an abandoned funeral parlor gets out of control in “Night of the Demons.” It sounds like a good premise for a horror movie, but one critic said, “those trying to make it through the film will more than likely be bored to death.”

[in-text-ad]

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

4. Ishtar (1987)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
> Director(s): Elaine May
> Starring: Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Adjani, Charles Grodin
> Box office gross: $14.4 million

Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman play a songwriting duo who travel to Morocco for a job and get mixed up in a CIA plot. Critic Roger Ebert called it “a truly dreadful film, a lifeless, massive, lumbering exercise in failed comedy.”

Source: Courtesy of AVCO Embassy Pictures

3. Prom Night (1980)
> Genre: Horror, Thriller
> Director(s): Paul Lynch
> Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Anne-Marie Martin
> Box office gross: $14.8 million

A senior prom turns into a nightmare when a masked killer targets a group of teenagers who were responsible for the death of a classmate some years earlier. Critics described it as “a generic night of mayhem.”

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

2. Howard the Duck (1986)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
> Director(s): Willard Huyck
> Starring: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, Ed Gale
> Box office gross: $16.3 million

Based on a Marvel Comics character, “Howard the Duck” leaves his home planet of Duckworld for Earth, where he rescues a young woman from attackers, and the two become friends. One critic called it, “wildly overproduced and grievously underwritten.”

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1. Poltergeist III (1988)
> Genre: Horror, Thriller
> Director(s): Gary Sherman
> Starring: Heather O’Rourke, Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Zelda Rubinstein
> Box office gross: $14.1 million

In the last entry in the Poltergeist series, the Freeling family sends their youngest child to live with her aunt and uncle in an attempt to hide her from the evil Reverend Kane but, of course, he finds her anyway. Poltergeist translates as “noisy ghost” but this sequel didn’t go bump at the box office — critics didn’t like it and audiences stayed away.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.